I've written about weddings for many years — in national magazines like Bridal Guide and InStyle Weddings, and also a handful of books.
In our current economy, I'm guessing that every couple is hoping to get the most bang for their bridal buck, which is why a book like Tie the Knot on a Shoestring is even more relevant today than it was when it was published in 2007. The great thing about planning a green wedding is that it can be easy to be frugal and eco-friendly.
With that in mind, here are five tips for planning a frugal (and green) wedding:
- Think local and in season. I've written in the past about thinking locally and in-season about your grocery shopping, and how it can help you save big bucks and ensure that you're getting fresher fare all around. Well, the same locavore principles apply to your wedding. If your food and flowers don't have to travel a great distance to get to your reception, then you won't pay a premium to get them and they will have a smaller impact on the environment. Figure out what food is available locally and in season around the time of your wedding, and plan your wedding around them. For example, lobsters at Maine wedding or crabs at a Maryland wedding should be a no brainer. Think similarly for flowers or anything else that you want to use in your bouquets or centerpieces. They don't call roses the yellow rose of Texas for nothing-so if you're tying the knot in the Lone Star State, roses might just be your best bet. Similarly, Washington State is known for its apples (among other things) so a cluster of fresh-from-the-orchard apples used as a centerpiece would be both tasty and affordable.
- Use Facebook friends, family, and LinkedIn connections to your advantage. Knowing someone in the business is a great way to get a discount on everything wedding related. So as soon as you get engaged, update your Facebook status or your LinkedIn "what are you working on" statement to mention your upcoming nuptials. Feel out family members to see if they might be able to score you some savings on a limo or the band. You'll never know what kind of money you can save if you don't ask questions. So give it a try via all of your virtual and real-world connections.
- Don't forget about Freecyle or Goodwill. Do you remember my post before the holidays about how I used Freecycle to get boxes filled with ribbons for free? Who would have thought that someone would be willing to give me ribbons I could use on Christmas presents-or free plants for my garden for that matter-without asking for a dime in return? Well, that's the beauty of Freecycle. Depending on what you need for your wedding-from ribbons to tablecloths-you just might be able to find it for free from your local Freecycle list. At the same time don't forget to check in with your local Goodwill or thrift store for affordable options for your wedding. Nearly every time I've visited Goodwill I've seen wedding and bridesmaid dresses for sale-yes, I would spring for a good dry cleaning before I wore them. I'll bet that a Goodwill or, heck, even a yard sale might be a great place to pick up affordable thank-you note, place cards, guest books or other little items that always end up on a bride's to-buy list.
- Do as much virtual planning and inviting as possible. While your grandmother may frown on a wedding invitation by email, if money is super tight, using Evite instead of a fancy (and expensively) printed invitation can help you keep your budget in line, and not use precious paper. Then save even more money by using a postcard for RSVPs and having your directions online that your guests can print out so you don't have to pay extra for those to be printed as well.
- When in doubt, think Super Bowl Sunday. Most brides-to-be quickly realize that when it comes to weddings, you'll pay a premium to have your event on a Saturday night-especially a Saturday night in June or September, two popular months in which to get married. Friday nights are expensive as well, though not as much as Saturday is, and Sunday is cheaper still. Move your wedding to a non-traditional day of the week for a wedding, like Monday or Thursday (unless New Year's Eve happens to fall one those non-weekend days), and you'll save even more. But the one day of the year when you're bound to get a great deal on a wedding is Super Bowl Sunday. Now if you've got sport fanatics in your family-your fiance included-this suggestion likely borders on heresy. But if your friends and family couldn't care less about football, a Super Bowl Sunday wedding might be your biggest frugal option!
What will you do or have you done to make your wedding green? Share your thoughts below!
Leah Ingram is the author of Suddenly Frugal: How to Live Happier and Healthier for Less (Adams Media, 2010) and founder of the popular blog Suddenly Frugal.